Tales of the Cocktail: Green monkeys and strolling vegetables
July 23rd, 2010
04:15 PM ET
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Sam Meyer is an editor at CNN and blogs about cocktails at cocktailians.com.

I have seen strange and wondrous things. I have seen a hairless cat with a rhinestone-bedecked velveteen collar advertising Slovakian vodka. I have seen green monkeys (more about that later.) I have seen grown men dressed as tomatoes and celery, beckoning passersby to a Bloody Mary bar.

I am in New Orleans at Tales of the Cocktail, the biggest cocktail convention in the country.

The home of jazz and gumbo is also one of the homes of the cocktail - the city's official cocktail is the Sazerac, properly made with hometown Peychaud's Bitters - and the city boasts the Museum of the American Cocktail and several top-notch watering holes, to say nothing of NoLa-associated drinks such as the Ramos Gin Fizz and Brandy Milk Punch.

Tales of the Cocktail has been an annual event in New Orleans since 2003, and there are nearly 15,000 industry types, bartenders, media, and cocktail enthusiasts gathered here for educational seminars with such titles as "The Science of Stirring", "The Evolution of Gin", and "Civilization Begins With Distillation." There are also walking tours, dinners with cocktail pairings, and lots of parties to attend. On Saturday night, a jazz funeral procession will wind through the streets, symbolically burying the Sex on the Beach cocktail. In 2008, they laid the Appletini to rest.

It's also a chance for the cocktail community to get together. Historians Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller excitedly told me about their recent discovery of the earliest-recorded use of the word "cocktail" - in 1798, in London, eight years before the previously earliest-known use of the word in an upstate New York newspaper. Here, business cards are being exchanged with wild abandon, and I've bumped into book publishers and bartenders and bloggers galore.

And the guys in the green monkey suits? Friends and I were sitting at an outdoor restaurant in the French Quarter, and they walked by us, on their way to lend atmosphere to a party thrown by a cachaca brand. One of my dining companions asked if the rest of us saw them too, or if they had emerged from her Champagne flute. Strange things can happen in New Orleans.

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Filed under: Bars • Events • New Orleans • News • Sip • Spirits • Tales of the Cocktail • Travel

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Mike

    That's right folks, Simon Ford = Tomato. hahaha

    August 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  2. The Crawdad

    I love the wit, intelligence, and insight of Sam Meyer. He brings a refreshing perspective and makes me feel like I'm in New Orleans with him. (Wish I was!) I've seen his NYC photos too. Brilliant!

    July 24, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  3. Michael P. Scott

    I hope you use this reviewer from CNN more often. He's good. I realize that Absinthe isn't generally considered, straight, a cocktail, but this IS New Orleans. Send Mr. Meyer back for a look at how the green stuff is making a comeback - I'm sure there's a cocktail or two in that story.

    Where Blue Laws Make Everybody Else's Blue Laws Look Positively Lascivious.

    July 23, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Yup – we dig him. You'll see more if he's got the time.


      Kat, Your Cruise Director

      July 23, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
    • Cachaca

      Brilliant, just what I needed to know about Cachaca
      thank you for writing such an excellent article.Please keep it up.

      October 29, 2011 at 2:26 am |
  4. Anne Berry

    Fun! I was at the dinner where the green monkeys showed up – they snapped pictures with fans but didn't swing from chandeliers or throw banana peels or anything. Honestly, after the third cocktail, it all seemed pretty normal.

    July 23, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
    • Jaime

      They were the green Leblon Monkeys that dropped off invites for the spirited dinner after-party. cool!

      July 30, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
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